Information GGJ

Overview
On this page you can find all the information you need for the GGJ Boston @Northeastern University, which will take place at the Digital Media Commons (DMC) in the Snell Library. You can use the links below to jump to specific topics you are interested in:

Please feel free to make additional suggestions to the organizer Casper Harteveld (c.harteveld@neu.edu).

GGJ_GeneralLogo

Acknowledgements
The information provided here is based on tips and suggestions by many jam organizers. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge Matt Perrin from the Cleveland Game Devs, Convict Interactive from Wollongong, Australia, Hazel McKendrick, and Jackson Wood and Claudio Ost from Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany.

Preparing for the GGJ
Make sure to check the following in preparation of the event:

  • Read over all of this! :)
  • Although we have your name, print out the ticket from EventBrite just in case and bring it with you.
  • Bring your own computer/laptop: the DMC does have computers but use of these has several disadvantages, see the facilities. If you bring other large equipment, please notify the organizer in advance.
  • Don’t forget power cords and accessories such as your mouse, stylus, and headphones. Feel also free to bring any prototyping material you tend to use.
  • Pack any snacks and drinks that you love and need to keep focused and energized. While we provide food and drinks, you may be in need of this during the event in between the meals. Some restaurants and coffee bars are also around in the vicinity, so if you are in need of something, you can get it.
  • Install software in advance, see the tools (but keep in mind to make use of tools you are comfortable with).
  • If you plan on doing some power naps or don’t plan on leaving the DMC at all, you should consider bringing some sleeping material. We have no beds, but I’m sure you can get a rest somewhere. It is recommended that participants get at least 5 hours of sleep because tired minds make mistakes.
  • Make sure you keep yourself fresh throughout the event, especially if you are staying overnight. So bring your toothbrush, deodorant, and all kinds of other material to make you look fresh and shiny until the end of the jam.
  • Whether you create a digital or analog game, have some basics to work with. You could bring some basic analog game elements or layouts or have some base code examples of typical game archetypes, such as platformers, puzzlers, or racing games. You can, of course, create everything from scratch (and some may prefer this experience during the jam and some jams even prescribe this) but it helps to have a foundation to build on and have some building blocks ready. This will help you to focus more on the creative parts of the process rather than having to focus on the development.
  • Feel free to bring board and card games with you, to have a break, relax a bit, and socialize with others. Other relaxation items are possible too. It is up to you!
  • You can already register at this site and later join a team and associate yourself with a game, see GGJ Registration.

GGJ Registration
All participants who want to receive credit for their game, need to register before Saturday 11 am. Registration occurs as follows:

  • Go to http://globalgamejam.org/
  • Create a profile by clicking on “login to GGJ” and choosing “Create new account”
  • Join this location at the drop down menu “Jam Site 2013″. This location “USA – Massachusetts – Boston – GGJ Boston @ Northeastern University”
  • Also join a team and associate yourself with a game. If the game doesn’t exist, the game needs to be created online by one of the team members first.

GGJ Game delivery
All games should be uploaded to the GGJ server. This needs to happen on Sunday before 3 pm. One of the core ideas of GGJ is sharing, so not only the executable has to be uploaded, also the source code, assets, makefiles, and mostly everything else needed to compile your game. The exact procedure is described here.

GGJ Theme and Diversifiers
GGJ has a theme, that everyone shares and is the kernel for teams to start brainstorming.  The theme will be revealed on Friday. Remember, the theme is a surprise, please don’t tweet or share the theme on social networks. It needs to be a secret to sites that start later than yours! Hawaii will be the last site to announce the theme and so after 10 PM you can start talking about the theme using social media.

In addition to the theme, the GGJ has diversifiers. The GGJ Diversifier system is a system aimed at diversifying the games as well as providing motivation for experienced game jammers. In a sense, the diversifiers are a free-for-all voluntary list of secondary constraints, that the individual teams can choose to go for, or not, as they please. If they do go for one or more diversifiers, they get to tick off those diversifiers as fulfilled when uploading their game. As stated above, the diversifiers are absolutely voluntary, and no points are given for taking them. If you are a first time team of students, we recommend that you focus primarily on the overall constraint, and only add in extra diversifiers if you feel sure you will have something to hand in on sunday.

Communication and Social Media
You can chat with GGJ participants all over the world using Freenode (channel: #ggj14). You can talk about the jam, progress, what you and they are up to, discuss design issues, and share work. For other ways of finding and sharing information, see below:

GGJ Promotions 
Make sure you don’t miss the GGJ promotions that will be promoted shortly before the event. Contact the organizer if you want to make use of one of the promotions and can’t access them yourself.

Location
The campus of Northeastern University can be conveniently accessed via the Northeastern Station (Green Line – E toward Heath St.) or at Ruggles station (Orange Line). The library is a short walk from both stations. The Digital Media Commons (DMC) is located at the second floor of the library. After entering the library make a right and take either the elevator or the stairs. The DMC is then right there.

Upon entering the library mention that you are participant of the Global Game Jam and mention your name if you do not have a Northeastern ID. The library staff members and security should have your name listed. Please bring an ID to proof your identity. If you encounter any problems, please contact the organizer.

Parking
Information for guest & visitor parking at Northeastern can be found here. Two parking possibilities exist: the Renaissance Park Garage and the Gainsborough Garage. A map of all parking facilities, including these, can be found here.

Facilities
The DMC consists of several rooms and locations you can make use of and which we have reserved entirely for this event. The space will still be open for others, but we can politely ask them to move somewhere else if you are in need of a certain space. The DMC has been recently been updated and has now more space dedicated to group work. An old map of the space can be seen here. The space is open 24/7 and has technical assistance 24/7 too.

Computers
The library has several computers you can make use of and that include important development software such as the Adobe products and Autodesk (for a complete overview of the software, see here). For the event I requested some relevant game development software and these should be installed on the computers as well. The software installed concerns: Audacity, Github, TortoiseSVN, Processing, Haxeflixel, GameMaker (free version), and Unity (free version). No other software can be installed on these computers. For this reason, we recommend and urge everyone to bring their own computer/laptop.

Something else to keep in mind is that the Windows-based computers will log you out after about 30 minutes of inactivity. You can prevent this by locking the computer. The quickest way is the shortcut of pressing the windows key + L. Otherwise you can do it from the start menu or by selecting “lock” after pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL. The Mac computer don’t log you out.

Internet
Guests can access the Internet through the NUwave-guest network. After accepting the network’s policy you can make use of the Internet. Northeastern students and other affiliates can, of course, make use of the NUwave network.

Tips

  • Set reasonable goals: don’t over reach. Keep it simple stupid (KISS). Avoid features that involve multiplayer, complex interactions, physics, third party libraries or lots of art assets or model rigging.
  • Avoid feature creep: make a clean and simple game concept and stick to it.
  • Cut unnecessary features: in fact, it is better to cut then to add.
  • Fail fast: if something goes wrong, accept it and move on or look for help. You don’t want to waste precious time.
  • Avoid searching for that one special item: with so many free content around, you may end up searching for that one item you want and that takes up a lot of valuable time. Use things that are satisfying. Sometimes this means it is far more efficient (and fun) to create something from scratch. You have to make this trade-off!
  • Get the basics working ASAP!
  • Make it pretty later: focus on the necessities. Clean, efficient code, UI, title and details can come later.
  • For brainstorming:
    • Scrap your first idea
    • “When the theme is announced, write down the first five things that come to mind and then toss them out” – Chevy Ray Johnston
    • Visualize it (fake screenshot mock up)
    • Mindmap it
    • Break it into tasks
    • Don’t forget the sound

Milestones 
Try to achieve the following milestones over the course of the weekend:

  • Friday, 8 PM: be part of a team and have an initial, rough idea.
  • Friday, midnight: good, fleshed out game concept with clear team roles and tasks for the complete weekend, a detailed timeline, and preferably some groundwork for the first prototype.
  • Saturday, noon: first working, playable prototype
  • Saturday, 7 pm: prototype that embodies the final concept (“concept freeze”)
  • Saturday, midnight: prototype that contains all of the essential features
  • Sunday, noon: version with all desired features  (“feature freeze”)
  • Sunday, 2 pm: have the video for the presentations ready
  • Sunday, 3 pm: final game uploaded on GGJ server

Detailed schedule
Friday
Find a team on Friday evening and think of a first good, fleshed out game concept that you want to work on after the theme is revealed. Define team roles and divide tasks. Create a detailed timeline. As veteran jammers recommend, start working on the bare bones of the project immediately (programming, art assets) and stick to your role. We recommend and urge you to register your team and game registered on this evening too.

We will start one hour later than the usual local start time of 5 pm because we have various students who are on co-op and cannot make it to the event before 6 pm. However, registration is open at 4 pm and so you can check-in early to start socializing with people who are able to come early.

  • 4 – 6 pm: Check in
 and jam registration
  • 6 – 7 pm: Theme reveal, GGJ keynotes, and announcements
  • 7 – 8 pm: Group Forming and Social “Get to Know Each Other” exercises and dinner
  • 8 – 9 pm: Brainstorming as a group with pitching to faculty
  • Midnight: Make sure you have a good, fleshed out game concept with a work plan for the weekend and some initial assets

Saturday
On Saturday morning look at the concept one more time, with a fresh and critical look. If it still makes sense, stick to it and start working toward your first working prototype. Aim to get this playable version about mid-day. This doesn’t need to have all the art. You can use placeholders for the game. However, it does need to run and resemble your game in some form. It should especially contain the basic game mechanic because then you can test and see if your plans are working or if you need to revise them. If you need to make changes, try to be smart. Drastically changing your complete concept isn’t advisable at this stage. The remainder of Saturday will consist of filling in the essential features and content and continue with testing these. So plan some more playtests later this day (and make backups!), to make sure you have a bug free and playable version at all time. Around dinner we will play each others games and give critique. At that point your concept should be finalized (hence why it is called a “concept freeze”). After dinner you can tweak the concept until you have a prototype that has all the essential features.

  • 8 – 9 am: Breakfast
  • 11 am: Deadline to create user profile and game page
  • Noon: Your first prototype
  • 7 pm: Deadline for having your basic concept implemented in a working prototype
  • 7 – 8 pm: Play each others prototypes and critique and dinner
  • Midnight: Make sure you have a prototype that has all the essential features

Sunday
On Sunday start with testing your game again and discuss a priority of things that need to be done until the deadline. Sunday should be really the day of cleaning up the code and putting the icing on the cake. It is about putting the finishing touches on the game and adding final content. You should not add features at this point that affect the gameplay drastically. Also make sure you have a backup version, so you can always revert back to the playable version you created at the end of Saturday and which should be good enough to upload to the GGJ server. Aim at finishing pretty much everything before noon/lunch. At this point you should really stop implementing new features (hence why it is called a “feature freeze”). You should now start winding up by fixing bugs, adding any unfinished content and testing like crazy. Anyone who has nothing to do should start working on the video. This will make it easier for others to quickly see what your game is about and is necessary for the presentations.

In fixing bugs and polishing the game, make sure you communicate. Things can go horribly wrong if multiple team members are working on the same bug and/or changing the source code simultaneously. Try to have your game ready one hour before the submission deadline. Submitting may take some time and you don’t want to miss the deadline. Once that’s done, you can take a deep breath and take a short well deserved break.

The presentations will take place in the Raytheon Theater, which is not far from the library. We will have a very special guest who will be our MC. So stay tuned!

  • 8 – 9 am: Breakfast
  • Noon: Version with all desired features (first executable)
  • 1 – 2 pm: Bug testing, create video, and final executable
  • 2 pm; Deadline for the video
  • 3 pm: Deadline for uploading the games
  • 4 – 6 pm: Presentations (in Raytheon Theater)

Tools and Resources
Tools

Vector/Scalar Image & 2D Graphics

Source Control

IDEs

Engines

Sound

HTML5 / Javascript

Frameworks

Assets

SDKs

Miscellaneous

Board Games

 Task Management Tools

Other Resources